Some passengers arriving from the United States at London’s Heathrow Airport this morning were disarmed when pumpkin pie rather than their bags trundled out on the baggage belts. It wasn’t a consolation prize or even edible compensation for lost bags, rather a bit of cheer from an airport not known for its cheer to mark the US Thanksgiving holiday.
According to a report by Harriet Baskas in The Points Guy, passengers on six flights inbound from the United States early in the morning on Wednesday, November 26, 2019, were greeted by baskets of pumpkin pie coming out on the baggage belts.
A warmer than normal welcome to Heathrow
Heathrow teamed up with Whole Food Markets to organize the pies and infuse a chilly autumn London morning with some Thanksgiving spirit. Heathrow’s Chief Commercial Officer, Ross Baker said;
“With Thanksgiving being such a key holiday for bringing Americans together to celebrate with friends and family, we wanted to surprise passengers traveling from the USA today with a special taste of home.”
And the gesture seemed to go down rather well, especially with the junior arriving passengers. Heathrow staff then ambled around topping off pies with whipped cream. Heathrow’s spokesperson said;
“Baggage ambassadors were on hand to garnish slices with dollops of whipped cream and wish everyone a very ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ with screens throughout the terminal echoing the sentiment.”
Ex-pats and visitors miss out on local holidays back home
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American day, based on a 1621 Thanksgiving harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims. It hasn’t traveled, so while folks in the United States enjoy a holiday, people elsewhere get up and go to work.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. November 28 is Independence Day in Panama, Mauritania, East Timor, Albania, National Holiday Day in Oman, and Republic Day in both Chad and Congo. Quite a few people getting the day off today. And while passengers arriving into Heathrow from Chad might wonder why there are no bowls of boule on the baggage belts, let’s not take it away from the Americans who each year pass through Heathrow in their millions.
Some 200,000 US citizens are living in London and like ex-pats everywhere, it can be a vaguely weird sensation when a significant day back home doesn’t rate a mention where you are – like everyone ignoring your birthday. Jade Hoai, from the UK arm of Whole Foods Market, said;
“Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for our seven U.K. grocery stores, as American ex-pats seek out the tastes and traditions of home. And while turkey might get first billing on the day, we know that it’s just not an American Thanksgiving without pie.”
Altogether it sounds like a much more positive experience than your usual early morning arrival into Heathrow. I was going to end by saying perhaps JFK or Dulles could reciprocate next year on the Queen’s Birthday and offer incoming Brits a very British snack upon arrival. I was thinking bangers and mash or toad in the hole. So I googled it, as you do. Google said the national dish of England is chicken tikka masala.
Which left me with nowhere else to go on the subject. Happy thanksgiving.